- The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has approve new net metering tariffs, applying monthly credits to small solar customers equal to 100% of the value of energy and transmission service, and 25% of distribution service for excess generation sent back to the grid.
- The new net metering rates are temporary, however, and will likely be updated following a study on distributed energy resource valuation.
- The new rates are essentially a mashup of utility- and solar-backed proposals, and represent a more collaborative approach to developing new net metering rates.
Around the country, net metering debates have turned into contentious disputes—and some key states have reduced compensation rates for retail rate net metering. New Hampshire regulators, however, tackled the issue with an approach that aimed for more common ground while data is collected for a more comprehensive review.
The PUC's order explained that it took "common elements in two settlement proposals," and combined them into "an alternative net metering tariff to be in effect for a period of years while further data is collected and analyzed, pilot programs are implemented, and a distributed energy resource (DER) valuation study is conducted."
The two settlement proposals were more initially more extreme: The solar industry proposal would have cut the distribution credit paid for exported energy by 50% in 2019, while the utility plan would have eliminated it altogether.
The new rates will apply to customers with renewable energy systems of 100 kW or less. Systems installed or entered into the utility interconnection queue while the DER study is being conducted will have their net metering rate structure grandfathered” until Dec. 31, 2040.
"Following completion of the DER valuation study, and with the availability of additional customer load and system data, the Commission will open a new proceeding," the order determined.
The utility and solar industry proposals were filed in March, and the proposals found common ground on time-of-use rate pilot projects, reducing the distribution credit paid for exported solar energy from residential arrays, and revising how credits are netted.
Under New Hampshire's original policy, rooftop solar users could net credits yearly at the retail rate, banking them for later use, usually at the retail rate of $0.17/kWh. The new policy will use monthly netting, as originally proposed by solar interests in the settlement agreements.
Chris Rauscher, director of public policy at Sunrun and spokesman for The Alliance for Solar Choice, said the decision was a "big win" for the state.
"It's the latest example of states taking action to support solar energy and provide consumers with more clean energy choices," Rauscher said. "Utilities, businesses, and consumer groups worked for months to produce this measured step forward that will enable lower energy costs for homeowners, continued economic growth, and local job creation for the state."